Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Starting a Painting or Finishing One, Which is Harder?

I have a lovely fresh board waiting for me in the studio. I have the idea for the painting; a continuation of the White Gloves series, so why am I looking at the rain and writing a blog rather than starting the painting? It is such a lovely blank space. Can I make a painting that means something to me and others? Once I start putting paint on it, am I spoiling the surface or creating improvements?

I finished the first "White Glove" painting a couple of days ago. It is hung in the living room and now I feel it should have been a triptych rather than a diptych. What do you think?

Finishing a painting is not nearly as much fun as starting one. At the beginning there is so much promise and then towards the end I have to solve all the problems that I have created.
rainy day view from the studio

last painting in the viewing room

In the living room

the nice, clean, blank board.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Oh No! Not Again

viewing room
Fun at the noisy, crowded Tuesday market. After a morning of shopping, sharing lunch  with friends.

 O.K, I might sound like the typical ex-pat that once she has been established in another country, wants to lock the door to the city to keep others out. I really don't feel that way, but for the second time in a few years the city of my home, San Miguel de Allende has won the top Travel and Leisure's vote for the best city in the word to visit.

Tour San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
'There’s a lot to love about San Miguel, a colonial treasure anchored by El Jardín, a leafy plaza marked by open-air cafés and the pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church. Art and textiles are big here: Mexicans and expats alike pop into independent boutiques selling artisan-made goods, and no trip is complete without a visit to the Fábrica La Aurora, a former textile factory that’s been converted into a series of contemporary art galleries. Restaurants serving delicious Mexican dishes (rich moles, hot gorditas, stuffed chiles) are tucked along cobblestoned streets lined with historic houses. For one of the best views of the city, make a reservation at the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende’s Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar (this hotel also ranked as the No. 2 City Hotel in the country); margaritas pair well with the chiming church bells at sunset. " 

It is not that I don't think San Miguel is beautiful and special, but the town is getting so crowded that it is hard to walk through the center on the tiny sidewalks because of all the tourists taking selfies.
It has become almost impossible to drive any where close to the center because of all the big cars clogging the narrow streets that were not designed for monster cars.

The hotels, restaurants and bars are not complaining, but I avoid going to el centro unless I must get to the bank or post office.

Last Sunday, my daughter (who also lives here) and I decided to play tourist and go into town. After a wonderful brunch, I parked a distance away from the center and we walked slowly, admiring all the new fashionable shops, restaurants, and glamorous hotels. San Miguel has become very sophisticated and offers almost anything you could dream of wanting to buy - at a price.

The art scene is active and expanding. There are some wonderful galleries and shows.

I am blessed by having established myself 13 years ago when I arrived with just my clothes and paint supplies.

I have forgotten how many solo gallery shows I have had over the years; I have met wonderful people through the over ninety workshops I have taught and can't imagine living anywhere else. The art supply store has everything, I love my doctor and dentist and now the new house.

We are preparing to host more art tours. It took the longest time to arrange my studio, but now I have started my new series. Life is good here in San Miguel.

If you do decide to visit San Miguel, contact me for a studio visit.

latest cold wax and oil abstract                  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What Is An Artist?

oil on board 2016
pencil sketch, 1952
 oil paint sketch circa 1999

Is an (visual) artist anyone who makes marks on paper, canvas, walls, floors with paint, pencil, pen or anything else?
One does not have to have an official certificate to call oneself an artist. In San Miguel de Allende, where I have lived for 13 years, it seems anyone can step off the plane, move into San Miguel and call themselves an artist. I personally know several who have done that. People perhaps are re-inventing themselves from a career in accounting, teaching school, real estate, etc. and are inspired by the big, thriving arts community here. One woman, a successful writer of books on behavior of children told me, " I have decided to be an artist". I sat next to her in a life drawing session and could not believe what she was producing. In my opinion she couldn't see, draw or begin to understand the human body. She was happy and satisfied.

There is nothing wrong with that and I personally have taught hundred of people the encaustic technique. Almost all had fun, some serious ones took up encasustic painting and others were entertained by moving the colored wax with the heat source.

I believed that one needed to earn the title of artist. I loved my classical training where we were only allowed to work in black and white the first semester and draw, draw, draw, until it was perfect.

When I was five years old, I decided that I would be an artist. I drew every spare moment. Visiting the Chicago Art Institute as a little girl, I remember sitting in front of Flemish still life’s, enraptured with the sensuousness of the paint, the color, and the depth of feeling the paintings provoked in my young mind. I told myself that someday I would be able to create similar work. There was no doubt in my mind.

As a child I occupied my days with my own creativity – drawing, painting and writing stories. In grade school, I ignored the arithmetic assignments. The schoolwork wasn’t my reality. All I wanted to do was draw.

Oil painting classes started when I was a pre-teen, and I fell in love with the smell of the paint. I couldn’t imagine why other people didn’t see what I saw, or weren’t as ardent about making art.

I married before I finished my last year of art school and I began working for two publishing companies, making tiny illustrations of oil wells, haystacks and other symbols for school maps. I illustrated children’s stories for the second publishing company, but was fired when I became pregnant with my first child.

During my second marriage, I went back to art school and continued to paint. It was challenging. I felt as if there were conspiracies against me. My parents, husband, and various people in the community told me to get a real job,

The passing years tested my self-confidence. I wondered if I could really call myself an artist - could I create anything of value to humanity or even to my community? I judged myself harshly and “gave up painting forever and ever” at least once a year, but always came back to start a new series. To call myself an artist I believed was an honor to be earned with hard work, the ability of creating what has not been made before, sacrifice, dedication, and daily work. Learning to trust my inner direction rather than clinging to intellectual reasoning was my greatest lesson in art and in life.

It now is 62 years since I had my first professional art job and I am still learning. I make art, teach and sell my work. I believe now I am qualified to call myself an artist.

My first real abstract. Casein on illustration board, 1953